Although it is widely accepted that clonal genetic alterations are an essential component of tumor progression, little is known of the distribution of such changes in high-risk lesions or how such clones are altered over time. We explored the feasibility of using exfoliative cells collected by scraping the mucosal surface to detect allelic loss in oral lesions of 22 patients (14 squamous cell carcinomas, 2 carcinomas in situ, and 6 dysplasias). The data show that the patterns of allelic loss observed in these samples closely represent those observed in biopsies of the same region. Furthermore, early indications are that this approach can be used to detect recurrent outgrowth of clones of altered cells in patients after therapy.


Supported by grants from the William and Ada Isabelle Steel Fund at Simon Fraser University and by the National Cancer Institute of Canada with funds from the Canadian Cancer Society.

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